Adjectival Order

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Adjectival Order

Order of adjective is the systematic arrangement of varying classes of adjectives that modify a noun. It is possible for a noun to be modified by more than one adjective. This is called cumulative adjectives. For example:

  • The six round black tables
  • Only beautiful old African ladies
  • First four big northern cows

How then do we arrange such adjectives? There are a few suggestions in circulation in various media. Some differ in what should come first and next. It is observed that some suggest that age should come before shape.

Here the order is based the structure given by seasoned authorities like Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum in A University Grammar of English and Dele Ashade in A-Z of JAMB’s Use of English.

When ordering your adjectives, the determiners come first, followed by number (ordinal before cardinal). Then, opinion adjective which has the following objective epithets coming in the order of size, shape, age, colour, material and origin.

1. Determiners:

  1. Articles: a/an and the
  2. Pronoun: my, that, your

2. Number:

  1. Ordinal: first, second, third
  2. Cardinal: one, two, three

3. Opinion adjective:

beautiful, gentle, unruly

4. Size:

big, small, large

5. Shape:

round, oval, rectangular

6. Age:

ancient, new, current

7. Colour:

scarlet, black, green

8. Material:

wooden, plastic, metal

9. Origin:

Italian, Nigerian, African

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